ADHD is everywhere.
Nearly 1 in 20 adults have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the organization Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). And those numbers are growing, with diagnoses reportedly increasing in the wake of the pandemic. Actively supporting workers who have ADHD is important not just for establishing a positive company culture, but also for boosting productivity.
While ADHD can make it harder for employees to focus while at work, it can also be a superpower when properly managed. Workers with ADHD can hyper-focus on work that excites and interests them and are often more creative than their peers, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Here are three ways you can accommodate your employees with ADHD and ensure that they're empowered to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Grant your employees latitude, within reason.
If your employees give you suggestions for how they could be better accommodated in the workplace, give them the opportunity to prove what works best for them. Some employees might say they work better during unconventional hours, like in the evening. Or they may need a quiet space in the office where they can focus on their work.
Of course, there's always a limit to what's a realistic accommodation request. Asking for a quiet spot to work is a lot different than asking for a personal corner office. Some of the best ways to accommodate employees with ADHD include scheduling uninterrupted work time so meetings don't interrupt their flow, or encouraging your employees to take a walk in the middle of the day -- according to the Job Accommodation Network. Taking a walk may not seem like a consequential action, but it can serve as a much-needed physical outlet for expending extra energy, and can help to ensure that employees don't get overstressed and anxious in the office.
Take an active interest in your employees.
It's likely that you already have multiple employees with ADHD, and you just don't know it yet. By getting to know your employees on a more personal level, you'll make them feel more comfortable in opening up about their struggles with ADHD -- and encourage suggestions for how they could be better accommodated than they would be in a less personal work environment.
Before introducing any solutions, try to make it known to the entire office that if anyone has ADHD, accommodations can be made for them. By confirming that you will support your employees, they may be more open to discussing changes that could positively affect their work. And by becoming more personally involved with your employees, you'll also be able to point out when it seems they aren't taking care of themselves. Encourage employees to take lunch breaks, use their paid time off, and generally maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Emphasize your employees' strengths.
Regardless of whether an employee has ADHD, if you notice someone excelling in one area of work but lagging in another, ask if there's anything you can do to bring their work more in line with their natural abilities and interests. Every person with ADHD exhibits different weaknesses and strengths; one person might be incredibly creative but easily loses track of time, while another might have trouble focusing on complicated paperwork but works well under tight deadlines.
Consider assigning a mentor or a job coach who can help your employee develop skills to supplement the areas where they're lagging, or consider shifting job responsibilities so that your employee is primarily working on material they're already comfortable with and excited about.